Sandwiched between the River Thames, a vast glass and steel housing development and a five-lane road replete with roaring traffic, Brunswick House Cafe's location in Vauxhall, South London, is unprepossessing. Consider the building in isolation, though, and things start to look up: it's a handsome Georgian townhouse, built in 1758 for the Duke of Brunswick but now home to Lassco, an architectural salvage merchant. Make your way into the annexe, occupied by the restaurant, and you are greeted by richly eclectic décor and the smell of fresh coffee from the espresso bar by the entrance. The phrase "hidden gem" is something that Brunswick House Cafe's proprietor, Mr Jackson Boxer, often hears in relation to his debut venture. At just 26 years old, Mr Boxer, the grandson of the legendary food writer Lady Arabella Boxer, is already cooking up a storm, both literally and figuratively. Late last year, the Financial Times described Brunswick House Cafe as "one of the most memorable places to eat in London", while Mr Boxer's modern British cuisine - which is based on the principle of using fresh ingredients bought on the same day - continues to draw in both locals and those who have made the journey alike.
I think it's wonderful that every morning a whole truckload of beautiful new things arrive, to be lovingly prepared throughout the day and served at dinner, until everything is gone, and we start afresh the next day
"People who have never been here before often find it quite unnerving to turn up at Vauxhall, which can be deserted at night, and walk down these massive pavements surrounded by these massive roads, and then arrive at this candlelit, strange, sort of temple to old-style living," Mr Boxer explains. "But I like that very much." In relation to the food, which has won plaudits from the city's notoriously hard-to-please restaurant critics, he says "We are very fortunate to be located in London, with easy access to some of the best produce suppliers in the world, so if there is a philosophy to the menu it is to buy the best ingredients possible, to cook them as simply as possible and to let them speak for themselves. I think it's wonderful that every morning a whole truckload of beautiful new things arrive to be lovingly prepared throughout the day and served at dinner, until everything is gone and we start afresh the next day." This approach, which sees the menu change daily and has given rise to such delicacies as griddled veal tongue with chickpeas and tzatziki, and blood orange and almond cake with orange zest cream, is in marked contrast to the decoration of the room, which is all about the old rather than the new.
From the dramatic chandeliers hanging overhead to the Versailles wooden panelling on the walls and a multitude of decorative objects, everything that makes up Brunswick House Cafe's unique interior can be purchased from Lassco. If a piece in the restaurant is sold, it is simply replaced with something else from the shop, although Mr Boxer does admit to buying certain things he wouldn't want to part with. "My arrangement with the shop has a lot of mutual benefit," he explains. "People certainly come into the restaurant who aren't aware of Lassco, and see the décor and then return to the shop to fit out their house, but it is also very nice for the guys when they are showing around a client to be able to offer them coffee and lunch in their annexed restaurant." To get a greater insight into the project, and hear more from Mr Boxer, click on the interactive image above.